RAMESH PRASAD BHUSHAL
The world is now in Durban of South Africa, discussing the future of the earth due to changing climate. Changes in the climatic patterns came as the result of warming of the earth, and warming is due to the production of the green houses gases like carbon dioxide from the development processes in the past and the luxury people took without caring for the limited resources on earth. The whole natural processes on the earth have been changing, which ultimately are affecting the poorest people across the globe struggling to survive. It would be unfair to say that only some have been victimized by the changing climate, but what would be fair to say is that some parts of the world have tougher times than the others, and the Himalayas are one of those. Studies have shown that mountains across the globe in general, and the Himalayas in specific, are threatened by the climate change. And, it needs to be looked into seriously.
Mountain regions have experienced above-average warming in recent years, with significant implications for the eco-system goods and services they provide to humanity, which are especially critical for the survival of the poor and indigenous communities. “Scenarios of climate change in mountain regions are highly uncertain and poorly understood, with large gaps in knowledge,” is what the mountain experts have been saying.
Though there has to be more researches on the mountains to find out the realities of climate change, the thing agreed upon globally by the scientists is that the melting of the glaciers in the Himalayas is at a higher rate than in the past, and if this continues at the same pace the largest freshwater system on the earth, also named as the water tower of Asia, would no longer be sustaining in the coming decades.
The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the scientific body of UN climate change framework convention, has said that that glaciers have melted significantly, and that this will accelerate and affect the water supply from major mountain ranges where more than one-sixth of the world population currently lives.
Though threatened, the mountains have not yet received global attention due to various reasons. The most debated issues among the scientists is that there has been scant research regarding the Himalayas and climate change, as it is one of the most difficult terrains in the world, with huge diversity. Experts have urged that there is no need to wait, but start taking actions to fight climate change as agreed upon by the scientists. “There is the urgency to act to fight climate change as the Himalayas are in threat and for this the regional cooperation is the need of the hour,” said Dr. Andreas Schild, outgoing Director General of International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the inter-governmental agency based in Kathmandu that is the knowledge center for eight Himalayan countries, including Nepal.
The mountain countries like Nepal have been demanding for looking into the climate change issues in the Himalayas more seriousl,y and also have started an initiative called mountain initiatives aimed at bringing them into a common platform— a highly ambitious project. But, as the climate summit here in South Africa was started with the words of Nelson Mandela that “It always seems impossible until it’s done,”, the dream of Nepal could transform into reality if there is hard work and excellent diplomacy.
Not only Nepal, the mountain countries across the globe are demanding higher attention to the problems faced by the mountain people. The Hindukush Himalayan range extends 3,500 km over all or part of eight countries from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east. It is the source of ten large Asian river systems – the Amu Darya, Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra (Yarlungtsanpo), Irrawaddy, Salween (Nu), Mekong (Lancang), Yangtse (Jinsha), Yellow River (Huanghe), Tarim (Dayan), and provides water, eco-system services, and the basis for livelihoods to a population of around 210.53 million people in the region. The basins of these rivers provide water to 1.3 billion people, a fifth of the world’s population.
With these facts and figures, urgent action is necessary to tackle the climate change by all the countries in the Hindukush Himalayan region, in a consolidated form and also at the global level by all the mountain countries.
Though the countries with mountains have various stands in the global forums like climate change meetings, and are linked with various groups of countries like least-developed countries, developing countries or developed countries, the agenda on mountain should be common if we really want to save the elegant Himalayas and other beautiful mountains across the planet. It is not that mountains have been totally neglected, but what we need now is common efforts to save the mountains.
To be heard globally, it is time that all countries came together with urgency in the global forums like climate summit in Durban of South Africa, where the world has been searching for solutions for the problems created by climate change.